Winter Grounding

Old Man Winter shows no mercy on a farmhand and their stock.  Winter makes everything on a farm harder, even keeping the stock within the  fence line.  snow cow (3)Last winter was  frigid, and we were asked  several times, “Why does my  livestock keep getting out  when my charger is working  perfectly?”  Frozen ground  conditions wreak havoc on  proper grounding of any  electric fence.

When the earth is frozen and snow covered, electric fences do not exert as much shock due to poor grounding conditions.  Frozen terrain is much like a dry terrain and does not conduct electricity as effectively as moist ground.  A snow covering acts as an insulator, which will prevent the animal from making contact with the earth.  The animal must be able to complete the circuit through the earth in order to receive a shock.

There are several things that can be done to help with winter grounding issues.  Where ground rods are placed is an important part of planning for the winter season.  Locate ground rods under trees or the sheltered side of a building to help minimize the amount of frost penetration.  Make sure that the area around the ground rods is moist before the winter season gets underway.

The most beneficial fix to winter grounding problems is to create a “hot/ground” system, also known as “fence earth return”, or what Kencove refers to as “posi/neg”.   A posi/neg system is a multi-strand fence, where one or more wires are “hot” (positive) and the other wires are “neutral” (negative) and connect directly to the ground bed.  Click to EnlargeIf the animal touches the positive and negative wires at the same time, the circuit is completed and provides a shock.  This system uses two grounds: the main or primary ground and secondary grounds. The main or primary ground is the traditional ground bed. To install the secondary grounds, drive the ground rods along the fence line at approximately 0.6 mile intervals. These are connected in parallel to the ground (neutral) wires on the fence. This helps reduce induction and improves the effectiveness of the main ground. Connect the ground (neutral) wires on the fence to the main ground using stainless-steel, copper, or insulated wire.

When Old Man Winter bears down, be aware of ground rod placement, be sure the ground is moist, and try a posi/neg system to keep your livestock safe and secure.

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